The NASCAR Cup Series heads to Martinsville Speedway for some short track racing at the Paperclip. Read on for some daily fantasy NASCAR DraftKings advice for the NOCO 400, airing Sunday, April 16 at 3 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1.
Martinsville is a 0.526-mile flat oval track that’s shaped like a paperclip, which is how it got its nickname. It’s quite similar in shape to the quarter-mile racetrack at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
Last spring’s event was run at night, and let’s face it: it was a dud. Two drivers — William Byron and Chase Elliott — led the most laps, with Byron coming out on top. But there was hardly any passing, especially for the lead. It was probably this race that caused NASCAR to start thinking about making some adjustments to the Next Gen car for the short tracks.
Now with the new package, the racing seems a little bit better this year, at least at Phoenix Raceway and Richmond Raceway.
However, what might throw a wrench into the plans on Sunday is a chance of rain. It appears that most of it might come at night but if it does get damp on the track, NASCAR can utilize wet weather tires for those conditions.
With this in mind, how should you prepare your DraftKings contests for this race? Well, first off, track position will be key to know who might dominate the event. Take a look at the practice times (especially 10-lap averages) to determine which of the top 10 qualifiers you should choose.
You can also look at the recent results at tracks 1 mile or less, especially from this year at Phoenix and Richmond. Lastly, study the drivers’ historic stats at Martinsville, as drivers who generally do well there will likely perform well this weekend.
Before I share my picks for Martinsville, here’s a look at the results from the Bristol Motor Speedway dirt track race:
|DraftKings Salary||Driver||DraftKings Score|
|$8,900||Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||58|
Daniel Suarez struggled quite a bit during this race, while Kyle Larson and Joey Logano had early exits after several run-ins with other cars. At least Larson’s score was in the positive after he led 75 laps and recorded 32 fastest laps.
Here’s a closer look at the DraftKings scoring rules…
The winner on the racetrack tallies 45 points, while second place gets 42, third 41 and so on. Tenth place scores 34, while 11th gets 32 and decreases by one from there through 20th. This pattern repeats for 21st through 30th and again from 31st through 40th.
Additionally, drivers can earn or lose a point depending on where they began the race. For example, if Joey Logano started third and won, he would gain two points in addition to his finishing position points, totaling 47 fantasy points.
Drivers also can earn .45 points for each fastest lap and .25 for each lap they lead.
Also, I will be hosting a free NASCAR DraftKings league that will run each week for the Cup Series only. It’s free to join, but as of now it’s just for bragging rights. You’ll get to compete against me and some of my colleagues here at Frontstretch.
Here is the link to the league:
Now, here are my picks for Bristol!
DraftKings Picks: Top Tier ($9,100-$10,800)
William Byron ($10,800)
Career at Martinsville: 10 starts, 1 win, 4 top fives, 6 top 10s
Average finish at Martinsville: 14.3
As I mentioned earlier, Byron is the defending race winner after leading over 200 laps. But that’s not the only time he did well at the Paperclip; in the last seven races, he earned four top fives and six top 10s. In the fall 2019 event, he was runner-up, while last fall he drove from 25th to seventh.
The No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports driver also has some good results this season, with a win at Phoenix. Then, at Richmond, the 25-year-old Byron led 117 circuits before he got spun by Christopher Bell after a restart. While he didn’t have a good finish then, he did show that he still had speed on the short tracks.
Watch Byron in practice in qualifying to see how well his car runs; if he’s fast, he should be out front once again.
Christopher Bell ($10,500)
Career at Martinsville: 6 starts, 1 win, 1 top five, 2 top 10s
Average finish at Martinsville: 14.7
Speaking of Bell, he, too, is one of last year’s winners at the short track. After starting mid-pack in 20th, he was out front for 150 circuits. He also won at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, leading 42 laps en route to the victory. Plus, at Bristol Motor Speedway last fall, he led 143 laps and placed fourth.
The No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing driver has been so good at short tracks recently, that he’s earned top 10s in each of the last eight races at tracks 1 mile or less. And at Richmond, Bell placed fourth and second in the spring and fall events, respectively.
Though Bell only has one other top 10 at Martinsville (a seventh in 2021), he should keep up the momentum from last week’s Bristol dirt win.
Denny Hamlin ($10,100)
Career at Martinsville: 34 starts, 5 wins, 17 top fives, 23 top 10s
Average finish at Martinsville: 10.5
Denny Hamlin‘s last win came all the way back in 2015, but he still has run strong at the Paperclip. He placed fifth in last fall’s playoff race after running in first for 203 laps. Then, in the spring 2021 event, Hamlin finished in third. That same year he led 379 total laps in both races at Martinsville.
As far as other shorter flat tracks, Bell’s JGR teammate won at Richmond last spring. Earlier this year, Hamlin led 71 circuits at Richmond but sped twice on pit road, relegating him to 20th.
Hamlin should lead some laps in this race, and if he does, it will help to put you in the green on DraftKings.
(Also like Ryan Blaney)
Middle Tier ($7,200-$8,800)
Ross Chastain ($8,800)
Career at Martinsville: 8 starts, 0 wins, 2 top fives, 2 top 10s
Average finish at Martinsville: 21.8
We all know what happened on the last lap in the penultimate race of the 2022 season: the Hail Melon. Ross Chastain made his mark on the wall of Martinsville, stepping on the gas that last turn and never looking back. The now-banned move put him in the Championship 4 over Hamlin and gave him his second top five at the half-mile track.
Chastain’s first top five there came earlier that year, but that wasn’t his only good result at a short track. At Dover Motor Speedway, the No. 1 Trackhouse Racing pilot led 86 laps before finishing in third last year. And in the championship race, Chastain gained 22 spots to place third.
Look for him to earn another top 10 once again this weekend.
Kevin Harvick ($8,400)
Career at Martinsville: 43 starts, 1 win, 5 top fives, 20 top 10s
Average finish at Martinsville: 14.7
OK, I know that Martinsville isn’t Kevin Harvick‘s best track, as he has just three top 10s there since 2019. One of those was ninth place two years ago.
However, Harvick’s recent runs at some short tracks have shown that he might just do well this Sunday. He has three straight fifth-place finishes at tracks 1 mile or less, at the last two Phoenix races and at Richmond. He also won at Richmond last fall after leading 55 laps.
Harvick might just do what you need in order to cash on DraftKings.
Low Tier ($4,800-$7,100)
Bubba Wallace ($7,100)
Career at Martinsville: 10 starts, 0 wins, 0 top fives, 1 top 10
Average finish at Martinsville: 19.5
Bubba Wallace displayed some strength at Martinsville last year, with a 16th in the spring and eighth in the fall after starting 24th in the latter race. He also placed third at NHMS, another shorter flat track. And at Phoenix earlier this season, Wallace was 14th.
Wallace has one other notable finish at Martinsville; in June 2020, he advanced 12 spots to 11th place. Should he do something like that again on Sunday, he’ll score well on DraftKings.
Michael McDowell ($6,200)
Career at Martinsville: 24 starts, 0 wins, 0 top fives, 0 top 10s
Average finish at Martinsville: 28.9
Michael McDowell doesn’t usually do well at the Paperclip, though he did gain 15 positions on the way to 14th in June 2020.
What made me want to choose him this week is that at Richmond a couple of weeks ago, he went from 15th to sixth. McDowell also earned a 13th at Phoenix. And last year, he drove from 18th to 11th at Bristol and 29th to 17th at Dover.
That’s really all you need from a driver with this low salary, especially at a track like Martinsville.
(Also like Todd Gilliland)
About the author
Joy joined Frontstretch in 2019 as a NASCAR DraftKings writer, expanding to news and iRacing coverage in 2020. She's currently an assistant editor while continuing to write daily fantasy and news articles. A California native, Joy was raised as a motorsports fan and started watching NASCAR extensively in 2001. She earned her B.A. degree in Liberal Studies at California State University Bakersfield in 2010.
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